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  • "Private Purchase" or "Aquired" weapons

    I've been thinking about carrying a Model 1863 Sharps carbine as kind of a "private purchase" of the sorts weapon for my western federal impression, throughout what research I've done I've never come across anything on any federal Infantry carrying these though, but I'm sure someone might have picked one up somewhere during the war. Does anyone have documentation on something like this, or at least an opinion on it?


    Thanks.
    Ryan Schuda
    Co. C, 45th IL / Co. G, 15th TN
    Dirty First Mess

  • #2
    Re: "Private Purchase" or "Aquired" weapons

    Ryan,

    Welcome to The Authentic-Campaigner!

    You're post has been moved here to the "Camp of Instruction" folder as it is a good place for newer folks in the hobby (or newer to the authentic-side) can come and ask questions and get good, supportive feedback.

    As to your question…

    I would answer you by asking you to consider a different approach to building your impression:
    Rather than "I would like to carry an XYZ Widget", consider instead, "I would like to portray the XXth Illinois Infantry during the Atlanta Campaign".

    To put it differently:
    Decide the impression you want to portray and let that drive what items you buy and use.

    This will help you avoid being a lone guy in a line of infantry who "just looks different".
    John Wickett
    Former Carpetbagger
    Administrator (We got rules here! Be Nice - Sign Your Name - No Farbisms)

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: "Private Purchase" or "Aquired" weapons

      Hi Ryan,
      I think you answered your own question. If you have not come across anything with a western Federal unit carrying a Sharps carbine, I would not suggest using it. It is great that you are doing your research. I would suggest you follow what you have found. It is always a safe bet.
      Rob Bruno
      1st MD Cav
      http://1stmarylandcavalry.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: "Private Purchase" or "Aquired" weapons

        Ryan,
        What unit are you with? The only private purchase rifle you see showing up out west are Henry rifles. But again, only in VERY limited instances. Look at it this way. Where would an infantry private get ammunition for a sharps carbine? It's not in his regular supply line and no officer is going to let him carry it anyway. If your in Chicagoland and looking to fall in with a progressive unit to learn drop me a message.
        Scott Sheets
        Joliet, IL

        36th Illinois
        Dirty Shirts

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: "Private Purchase" or "Aquired" weapons

          Hallo!

          At the risk of using a "Universal," no.

          Could it have been done, say once? Sure. Was it probable or likely, no again. Was it common, no.

          As shared, ammunition supply would have been a nightmare. While one can imagine an infantryman getting a battlefield pick u for a dead cavalry man, and the number of round left in his box. After that is the ability to get ammo issued for it, or always being near dead cavalry to scrounge, and having a sheepish grin during inspections. :)
          I have a "hard" time " visualizing" a company or regimental commander permitting a man to do so and lose his bayonet, be out of ammo even if having the money to buy commercial ammo and somehow have it connect up with him in the field... even if he could always arrange to be in the front rank. ;)

          Curt
          Curt Schmidt
          In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt

          -Hard and sharp as flint...secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.
          -Haplogroup R1b M343 (Subclade R1b1a2 M269)
          -Pointless Folksy Wisdom Mess, Oblio Lodge #1
          -Vastly Ignorant
          -Often incorrect, technically, historically, factually.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: "Private Purchase" or "Aquired" weapons

            Picking up a weapon from a dead cavalryman... (and keeping it) Wouldn't that be stealing Federal property?
            Also you are still issued a musket that you need to take care of.

            I know that some units did exchange older smooth bore muskets for newer rifled muskets on the battlefield... but I guess the officers found a way to deal with the paperwork.

            So I would think it need to be a weapon that was available for general sale.

            And even if the officers are positive about it, there are some clear problems with paperwork, and most of all, how to get ammunition.


            If random soldiers did carry a "special weapon"... Iam sure you can find sources to support it.
            Thomas Aagaard

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: "Private Purchase" or "Aquired" weapons

              Ok, thank you everyone.

              I've had this carbine for awhile and just had a thought of possibly using it, I was by no means set on doing so.

              and even though things like inspection and stacking arms among other things would be... interesting to see, I think I'll stick with my musket. Thank you all for the info and opinions.
              Ryan Schuda
              Co. C, 45th IL / Co. G, 15th TN
              Dirty First Mess

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: "Private Purchase" or "Aquired" weapons

                My compliments to you for coming to this website for information in response to your curiosity. You have received some very good responses by people who have been researching questions like yours for many years, and it appears you plan to heed their advice. As John Wickett suggests, first determine what unit you want to portray and then research it for uniforms and equipment used at any given point of the war. The other seasoned respondents are very likely correct in their arguments about a regular infantryman not having a Sharps carbine in his possession for a variety of justifiable reasons. The point is that you will be most successful portraying a soldier most commonly outfitted as opposed to one who stands out as “different” from the others in a unit.

                Now, if your whole unit wants to do a different infantry impression that is well documented, it might want to consider a company from one of the Illinois mounted infantry regiments that were a part of Wilder’s Lightning Brigade. They were equipped with mostly Spencer repeating rifles that were for the most part purchased privately (by resources other than the federal government). There is a lot of good information about the Lightning Brigade, and the Illinois and Indiana State Archives and Historical Societies have quantities of primary information about the units from those two states the served in the brigade. It must be noted that to correctly portray a unit of that brigade, you will need a horse or mule because it was characteristically a mounted infantry brigade. It was a highly regarded brigade because of its rapid deployment ability and superior firepower, but would obviously entail much effort to accurately portray.
                My recommendation is to research the 45th Illinois Infantry and create an impression along the guidelines of what you can discover about its uniforms and equipment. In doing so the time spent researching should be fun and rewarding, and you will feel very good about your final portrayal. There is definitely something to be said for knowing you are accurate as opposed to speculative!

                Tom Williams, AAG
                4th Virginia Infantry
                Indianapolis
                Tom Williams

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: "Private Purchase" or "Aquired" weapons

                  My answer to your question is a "Yes" and a "No". Civil War history is full of tales of soldiers getting an upgrade off the field after a battle. And it just wasn't Confederates who were doing this either. Probably the most famous Federal case is Grant swapping out his army's obsolete weapons for Confederate Enfields after Vicksburg. But the problem with doing something like this in your case would be keeping it fed (ammunition). If you are the only soldier armed with a Sharps (carbine or rifle) in your company armed with Springfields, it would be more than a little hard to guarantee a source of ammunition. Remember, while we supply ourselves with our own ammunition now, back in them thar days it was the army that issued it. A one of a kind gun in a company would be only good for as long as the ammunition lasted. The Rebs found this out after they captured Spencers.
                  Mike Fraering

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: "Private Purchase" or "Aquired" weapons

                    Originally posted by 4vaadjutant View Post
                    There is definitely something to be said for knowing you are accurate as opposed to speculative!
                    Here, here!!!!
                    John Wickett
                    Former Carpetbagger
                    Administrator (We got rules here! Be Nice - Sign Your Name - No Farbisms)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: "Private Purchase" or "Aquired" weapons

                      Originally posted by yatman View Post
                      The Rebs found this out after they captured Spencers.

                      Out of idle curiosity are you talking about a specific incident or just a generalization?
                      John Duffer
                      Independence Mess
                      MOOCOWS
                      WIG
                      "There lies $1000 and a cow."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: "Private Purchase" or "Aquired" weapons

                        While it is fiction, Si Klegg of course is an account written by a veteran Western infantryman. He talks about Shorty and Si using bonus money after their veteran regiment leave to buy Henry rifles, but the other key is what others mention here, he also talks about having to buy the ammunition. If you are like Wilder's brigade with large numbers of Sharpes rifles then obviously the ammo is available, but the key is how realistic is it for a soldier in the field to sustain his own supply of non-standard ammunition? We know the 7th IL had large numbers of Henry rifles, but what I have personally never looked in to is how they supplied ammo. Especially difficult in that time period. Now, that there were battlefield pickups is certain as many have discussed, and documented in a few cases, but how long could a soldier carrying a non-standard weapon continue to use that weapon.
                        Last edited by Pennvolunteer; 11-06-2014, 10:16 AM. Reason: Bad spelling!
                        Frank Siltman
                        24th Mo Vol Inf
                        Cannoneer, US Army FA Museum Gun Crew
                        Member, Oklahoma Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission
                        Company of Military Historians
                        Lawton/Fort Sill, OK

                        Pacifism is a shifty doctrine under which a man accepts the benefits of the social group without being willing to pay -- and claims a halo for his dishonesty.— Robert A. Heinlein

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